Over the years, numerous Kashmiris have been demanding aazadi, and so certain points need to be clarified:
1. Kashmiris say that Kashmir was always independent. This is historically incorrect. Kashmir was only independent till 1587 when the last independent ruler Yusuf Shah Chak was deposed and exiled by Mughal emperor Akbar who incorporated Kashmir into the Mughal Empire. Later, it passed under Afghan, Sikh and Dogra rule, and ultimately came under the British. Maharaja Hari Singh was only nominally independent, but like other princely states in India, the real ruler of Kashmir was the British Empire, whose army was posted there.
2. No Indian government can survive if aazadi is granted to Kashmir. If Kashmir is granted independence, then Nagas, Mizos, Tamilians, Khalistanis etc may also demand independence, and India will be broken up and Balkanised.
3. Kashmir has a massive handicraft industry, and the market for this is mainly in India. Almost every one of the hundreds of towns in India has shops run by Kashmiris, who bring carpets, shawls and the like from Kashmir to sell there. I even saw two shops run by Kashmiris in Kovalam Beach near Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram. This huge market will be lost to Kashmiris if Kashmir is allowed to separate from India, for then, Kashmiri traders cannot come to India without a visa, which would be difficult to get. The consequence will be that thousands of Kashmiri industries will have to close down, and lakhs of Kashmiri workers will become unemployed. Also, Kashmir will lose Indian tourists like Amarnath Yatris who contribute to the Kashmir economy.
4. Kashmir is too small to remain independent. If it is separated from India, it will soon come under the Pakistani (or Chinese) jackboot. Some Kashmiris point to small European countries like Belgium, Luxemburg, Switzerland and Monaco and ask that when these can survive independently, why can't Kashmir? They overlook the crucial fact that these are developed countries and have their own histories. So the analogy is misplaced.
5. The ideology of the militants and separatist leaders is Islamic fundamentalism. If Kashmir becomes independent, it will revert to the dark Middle Ages, with the regressive Sharia law enforced, women being to be forced to wear a burqa and being stoned to death for adultery and so on. According to some reports, Sufi Kashmir has been largely transformed into Wahabi Kashmir, and the situation will become much worse if Kashmir is granted aazadi.
6. It is true that two or three families were ruling over Kashmir and looting it, while the ordinary Kashmiri remained poor. What were the assets of these families before they entered politics, and what are their assets now? Is it not true that relatives of separatist leaders are studying/working abroad ? This should be investigated, and the facts widely published.
7. With regards to converting Jammu and Kashmir into a Union Territory, Kashmiris, it can be argued, have brought it upon themselves by kicking out the Pandits, just as Germany deserved its fate after 1945 for what the Germans did to the Jews. At any rate, how does it matter to the ordinary Kashmiri whether Kashmir is a state or a UT?
8. The restrictions presently imposed will be lifted gradually, as announced by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
The author is a former Supreme Court judge and former chairman for the Press Council of India
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Updated Date: Sep 05, 2019 08:49:58 IST